Position breakdown: Linebackers

Superb starters, led by middle linebacker Nick Barnett, and depth make this an elite unit.

Here is a breakdown of the Green Bay Packers' linebackers.

Depth chart: Starters: Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and Brady Poppinga. Reserves: Brandon Chillar, Desmond Bishop, Abdul Hodge and Tracy White.

Strength or weakness?: Strength. Barnett looks like a man on a mission after being overlooked for the Pro Bowl last season. He's the heart and soul of the defense, tough as nails, smart and relentless. He's flanked by the steady Hawk on the weak side and Poppinga on the strong side. Both could have breakout years if defensive coordinator Bob Sanders follows through and calls a more aggressive game once the regular season kicks off.

The depth is unmatched around the league. Chillar's versatility seemingly has gotten Sanders' creative juices flowing. Hodge looks better than ever after surgery to both knees early last season, and Bishop looks like he's played on the weak side for years rather than days.

The four backups are a major reason why the special teams seem ready to go from good to superb.

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com

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